The term NFT or Non Fungible Token was first brought to our attention in March of this year (although they’ve been around much longer than that) when an artist known as Beeple sold one for a whopping $69 million dollars. Since then more stories keep emerging of people making vast sums of money selling NFTs so, in the spirit of research, we decided to have a go at creating an NFT, to see if these streets really are paved with gold… this is what we learnt…
When we first found out about the Beeple sale we began an interesting journey with a steep learning curve. We were aware of cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin but had never really thought about entering this whole new world. The Beeple story changed all that.
In the blink of an eye we were discussing NFTs, wallets, minting, Ethereum, etc. We started speaking to others who had gone through the process successfully to find out how they’d done it, all the while still trying to pluck up the courage to have a go ourselves.
Now before we go into our experience we want to say two things:
1) If you don’t know what an NFT is or are unfamiliar with the terminology mentioned above we’d recommend you read our article ‘We ask the $69m question… what the [email protected] is an NFT?
2) We are not experts at all and this is all still very new to us. This is simply an outline of what we did and how we found the experience.
Ok, so with that said let’s crack on.
From the advice we’d received we went and set up a Coinbase account. This was a fairly straightforward process involving supplying various bits of information in the same we you’d set up a normal bank account. The purpose of this is so you can transfer fiat money (the money we are used to) into your account to buy Cryptocurrency.
In order to create an NFT (also known as minting) we were told to purchase Ethereum (ETH) (there are alternatives but RTH is the most popular) and because we weren’t sure how much we needed, we added £100 to our Coinbase account and turned it into ETH. So now we actually own some Cryptocurrency! Step 1 done.
The next step was to set up a digital wallet, this allows us to use the ETH on NFT platforms such as Opensea, Foundation and Rarible. Everyone we spoke to recommended MetaMask so surprise surprise we went with MetaMask. Again, the set up process was fairly seamless and once all approved we could then transfer our ETH from our Coinbase account into our new MetaMask wallet. Now it’s time to finally mint our very first NFT!
This for us was the exciting part. After all this is what steps 1 and 2 were leading up to. We decided to mint our first NFT on Opensea for no other reason than all the websites we went to mentioned Opensea in their top 5 best places to mint an NFT.
Like the previous steps, setting up an account on Opensea wasn’t particularly difficult and to mint an NFT you simply hit the create button and follow the process. We weren’t too sure what some of the questions mean such as should we freeze our metadata? What are properties, levels and stats? But we seemed to be able to leave those blank and carry on.
One of the final stages was deciding how we wanted to sell our NFT and with Opensea it seems like there are two options… auction or set price. As complete newbies we opted for a 5 day auction on the basis we had no idea what we wanted to sell it for, or what someone would be willing to pay for it but just like that our very first NFT was now available.
Up to this point it’s been more of a ‘what we did’ rather than a ‘what we learnt’ story so here comes that part…
As the title suggests we did mint an NFT, as discussed briefly in steps 1-3, but the important part is the selling of it, and like anything for sale it’s all about getting your product in front of the right people; the people that want your product.
On Opensea alone there are over 19,000,000 NFTs on offer. That is a lot to choose from and our little NFT was somewhere in amongst them. Now we needed to try and find an audience and fast (we only had 5 days before the auction closed). From everyone we spoke to the number one place to shout about your NFTs is Twitter.
Now if you think a couple of tweets is going to send 100s of people flocking to your NFT and have them fighting over it, then unfortunately you’ll be disappointed. The bottom line is, like anything, it’s going to take time. You need to build your audience of fans, grow your twitter account with the right people and get involved in the NFT community etc.
For us, it’s exactly the same as what you have to do in the ‘real’ world. Sure, you can create the most amazing physical art but if you don’t have the right audience you still might not sell it. So when you see these amazing NFT sales in the headlines the likelihood is they already have a huge following on social media; a captive audience who are there ready to snap up whatever it is they create.
Of course there are those weird anomalies or exceptions to the rule but for most, it certainly isn’t some overnight-get-rich-quick-scheme, and many have had to take losses at first before people start offering larger sums of money.
The other thing we want to mention is fees… and there’s a lot of them. Pretty much everything you do involves a fee. Setting up accounts = fees, transferring money = fees, listing your NFT = fees, selling an NFT = fees.
One of these is known as gas fees and it was something we were not aware of. In a nutshell it’s the cost of energy for a transaction on the Ethereum blockchain and this fluctuates wildly.
Towards the end of our 5 day auction we were thrilled to finally get an offer on our NFT. When we went to accept it we were astonished to find that we would be charged over £40 in gas fees! But as we said, it fluctuates wildly and after biding our time we eventually accepted the offer with gas fees of around £30. One thing to note is that Opensea states the following, in regards to gas fees:
If this is your first listing with OpenSea, sellers must pay 2 transaction gas fees to setup their account. This is a one-time fee that you will not pay moving forward.
Buyers pay the gas fees when purchasing fixed-price items and sellers pay the gas when accepting offers.
Opensea also turns your ETH into WETH. We don’t know why but they do, and guess what… In order to turn your WETH back into ETH there’s another fee.
So was our experience a good one and would we do it again? Absolutely!
Although after all the set up fees and transaction fees etc we pretty much broke even we still felt like it was a good starting point for our NFT journey. We never expected to sell it for some record breaking figure and the experience gave us a huge insight into the potential that the NFT world has in store.
When we wrote about Beeple back in March we felt that maybe we were already too late to the party, but we don’t think that’s the case. In fact, we think this is still the early days, and as the platforms continue to evolve and more people continue to accept NFTs as a legitimate form, more exciting things are still to come.
At the end of the day, for artists, NFTs can be another wonderful extra revenue stream and another way of showcasing your work to whole new audience, but like any new venture, it takes effort and it takes time but if you’re willing to put the work in the rewards can be… well, very rewarding.